Brewsday: Millennium Buzz Red Lager

Before I get started, a little campaigning:  Tina and I have made the first cut in both the Best Personal Blog and the Best Activities Blog of the Canadian Blog Awards.  Before we dive into the intricacies of marijuana-themed beers, won’t you take a moment to click on the links above and give us your vote?  We would be ever so grateful, and I can promise you a series of champagne-related posts if we win!

C’mon now, don’t you want to see what Tina does with champagne?  I know I do.

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I never know where my beer adventures will take me next.  I picked up Buzz Beer (official name: Millennium Buzz Red Lager) from the liquor store this weekend, figuring that this would be an easy slam dunk review.  I mean, c’mon!  It’s a beer brewed with, no kidding, “B.C.’s finest hemp”!  If that isn’t comedy written into a beer label, I just don’t know what is.

It’s obvious by now that over-the-top marketing is exactly what attracts me to a product, and also what charges me so emotionally about it.  Is there any reason otherwise that I would become so angry at a light beer?  Is there any reason at all to get angry at a light beer?  No, but that’s what I’m like — if marketing lures me in, it had better either validate itself or prepare for my wrath.

Of course, Buzz has an easier time of it than other beers, because its implied claim is a little bit outrageous.  It isn’t attempting to taste like something with which I would have some familiarity, like pumpkin or chocolate or strawberry.  It’s trying to tell me that it tastes like roasted hemp, which is like… what, do you think?  What does roasted hemp taste like?  What does it taste like when you roast hemp and compress it into a small space?

I cannot imagine.

Buzz Beer (Millennium Buzz Red Lager, remember) is a product of Cool Beer, a microbrewery that makes its home in the delightful Mimico neighborhood of western Toronto, which is otherwise notable for being the home of both a correctional centre and a potential leader of the Liberal Party in Canada.  Just over 10 years old, the brewery has only two products — the hemp-based product under review today, as well as Cool Lager (and its Mini counterpart).  I actually came across both of these a couple of years ago at the annual Food & Drink show in Toronto, but here’s the trouble with an event like that:  After so very, very many samples, your priorities shift from testing new and delightful flavors to getting as many drinks as you can for your remaining tickets.  So, while I can’t say I recall how much I liked Buzz at the time, I do remember two very proud guys talking about the awards they’d won, patiently enduring jokes about getting high off of their product, and offering the cheapest pints on the floor.

So I’m glad I finally got around to trying it again, because it’s worth the shot.

Buzz is a lager that will surprise you in a couple of ways.  First, it pours much darker than even it’s “red lager” styling would have you expect, a nice rich color that promises a solid beer.  Second, it’s got a lot more complexity than you might give it credit for, considering it’s a brew selling itself on the novelty of its ingredients.  It pours very smooth, not fizzy but without any substantial head, and carries a nice sweet nose with it.  The funny thing is that the only reason I’d ever pour out a beer like this is for a review, but I’m glad that I did — it looks good, and the air even seems to give it a little bit of help.

That said, Buzz isn’t quite a modern classic that you can’t live without, and the hemp-as-main-ingredient gimmick feels a little bit hollow.  Yes, it has an inherent appeal to the dedicated core of Woody Harrelson devotees who advocate hemp as the miracle plant, but for everyone else it’s a bit of a mystery — all I can say is that it tastes more like hemp beer than any other hemp beer I’ve tried, which is an easy comparison because it’s the only hemp beer I’ve ever tried.  So logically, as far as hemp beers go, it’s the best I’ve ever had.

It’s not on that basis I recommend this, though, because that’s more patently insane than even I’m willing to be on the internet.  If you want to give Buzz a try, do so because it’s a well-made local lager that tastes a bit different, looks a whole lot better than many mass-produced red beers, and has more to it than you might expect.

Oh!  And they do home delivery.  Now that’s just genius.

Rating:  4 hemp enthusiasts out of 5

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    I liked this lager as well, but I’m a bit shamefaced – if you hadn’t poured it out of the bottle for a picture I would have had no idea that it was a red beer. It didn’t have that thicker caramel taste of a red beer, and since I’m a bottle-drinker I never would have seen the color. Also: I didn’t read the label before I grabbed it out of the fridge. That said, it was really rather pleasant! Thank God, I don’t think I could take another Steeler of St. Peters for a while….

  • Nick

    I had it on tap recently (in Hamilton) and it was everything you said and more. Taste was full and deep but light as well, and it most definitely is one of the best looking beers I’ve ever had. I must say though, I’m from the states and a didn’t see ANY cheap beer up there! I did the math with the exchange rates, and you guys are paying on average 2 bucks more (U.S.) a six pack than us, which was a real blower. I love Canada despite it. Anyway, try Buzz on tap, it’s great.

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

      “I love Canada despite…” is practically the title of our National Anthem, I think.

      It would be fun to have it on tap — the very first time I tried it was at the Food & Drink show in Toronto, and they had a keg set up there for samples. There was a lot of traffic through that booth, for three reasons:

      1. The woman serving the beer
      2. The cross-marketing with hemp/weed
      3. It was the absolute cheapest beverage at the entire show.

      And despite that, I loved it!

      (see what I mean?)

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